PZI Teacher Archives
Zhaozhou taught, “The greatest way isn’t difficult if you don’t pick and choose. As soon as I speak, you’ll think, ‘That’s picking and choosing,’ or ‘That’s clear.’ But I don’t identify with clarity. Can you live like that?”
A student asked, “If you don’t identify with clarity, what do you live by?”
“I don’t know.”
“If you don’t know, why do you say that you don’t identify with clarity?”
“You’re asking about a matter you already grasp. Make your bow and step back.”
—Blue Cliff Record Case 2 (translation by John Tarrant & Joan Sutherland, titled: Zhaozhou’s Greatest Way Isn’t Difficult)
Note: Zhaozhou is quoting from Third Ancestor Sengcan‘s “Trust in Mind,” a foundational Chan text
It’s remarkable that the Picking & Choosing koan appears four times in the Blue Cliff Record, which contains only one hundred cases. So, what to do with it? Whatever you see is going to be true, it’s going to belong to you.
We can fairly easily see that not picking and choosing will help free us from some entanglements. At first you might think it’s about not caring, but actually it’s the opposite. It’s to do with befriending reality, listening to reality with a tender care. Complete dharma talk from Sunday, June 26, 2022. 43 minutes.
Dark forces are present in our time, but the light is always at work holding everything. Do what you can, and know that confusion and lack of clarity are steps on the Way. Fierce joy is also it. Music for meditation from Michael Wilding & Jordan McConnell. Includes guided meditations. Complete Sunday session recorded July 03, 2022.
It is mysterious how we can avoid the Way, even when we most want to enter it. It’s good to know we have a vessel that carries us. We can listen to everything that arises. From Not Picking & Choosing Part 1, a PZI Sunday Talk from June 26, 2022. 7 minutes.
Jesse Cardin talks about confusion and clarity: Where do you abide, or want to abide, and how do you move in the world? Clarity isn’t going to save you. A 10-minute excerpt from a longer dharma talk given April 24th, 2022, when Jesse guest-hosted John Tarrant’s regular Sunday meditation session.
Here is a curation of sesshin dharma talks on a single page, for easy finding and listening. A sesshin is always more than the sum of its parts or its recorded talks. There are morning rituals, greetings, incense passed magically through the screen, the changing light, rich silences, moments of humor, tech gremlins, tears, synchronicities, dogs barking, dreams, and awakenings that we share. It is the timeless play of the universe, with each other. As recorded in the PZI Digital Temple, June 22-27, 2021.
David Weinstein in Summer Sesshin, shares remarks on picking and choosing in practice and in life.
You are a stowaway in a wild koan journey of picking & choosing, told by John Tarrant. He recounts the adventures, awakenings and conversations of the great teachers that were gathered at the Blue Cliff with Yuanwu.
Second evening talk of Summer Sesshin 2021: John Tarrant introduces the great master of the Blue Cliff and the great questions and koans of his awakening.
Everybody, every time, has its own difficulty and crisis. This is ours. We can trust our own lives that brought us here, and perhaps we have something to do here. And we don’t know what that is but we’ll find it as we keep walking. The thing about the meditation path is, I don’t have to think a lot about what’s mine to do. You just give yourself to the meditation, and it’s produced for you. It’s given to you. The path opens by itself, you know. Transcript of PZI Zen Online Sunday Talk with John Tarrant, recorded March 29 2020.
Hanging Lanterns in the Autumn Valley with John Tarrant. The Valley Spirit is holding us—the mother deep. A big moment in our time, post-election. How to cope with Bad Emperors and accord with change. What is my place in the mandala? Finding joy in the thusness of things in all circumstances. Not seeing the light is also the light. “What is medicine? Bring me something that is not medicine.” Bring me something that is not the light! PZI Zen Online, as recorded Nov. 8, 2020.
PZI Zen Online – The pandemic has altered the usual ways we choose. What is ‘picking’ and ‘choosing’? When does choice occur? When do I ‘not choose’ but say yes to life’s flow? David recounts many of life ‘yeses’ before thinking picking or choosing. How we find what we don’t think we are looking for.
PZI Zen Online Audio: Includes John’s intro and koan, a long meditation segment with Jordan McConnell on guitar. John gives the koan and other guidance throughout the meditation segment followed by a talk and comments. Closing bells, violin, & 4 vows with PZI Cantor Amaryllis Fletcher. As recorded March 29, 2020.